Before moving to Caernarfon, I lived at Ty’n-y-Maes, Nant Ffrancon – we were one of a few families and farmers lucky enough to live in this majestic valley.
The Carneddau tower over the valley as do the Glyderau and for me, it is and always will be the most beautiful place in Wales possibly the world.
My Dad was a founder, and life-long member of the Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue Organisation, consequently I spent a lot of my childhood at Bryn Poeth the rescue base or being dragged out for long walks – much like my kids are now, I even take them on the same walks and bore them senseless with ‘when I was a kid’ stories.
Recently we were at a loose end, we had an arrangement to meet a friend and her children at ZipWorld in Chwarel Penrhyn for coffee, a chat and a play by the river.
We had a little time, so I headed up to Nant Ffrancon, and turned down the single-track road that runs parallel with the A5, this is known locally as the ‘Roman Road’ although I don’t think it has anything to do with them, for a start it’s far too wiggly.
I continued along the road to Tai Newyddion, a property that was once owned by the military. There is some parking by the track here, though care must be taken not to block the essential passing places.
Having parked we walked back in the direction we’d come from, where we took the Lon Las Ogwen cycle track. This is a lovely walk, we heard the cuckoo calling and hunted for tadpoles in the little stream. The path is steep in places as it follows the line of the old quarry tips and it’s well worth keeping your ears open for mountain bikers.
There is a change of scenery when you get to the bridge at Ogwen Bank the path continues on the left-hand-side of the river. Here is a great place to skim stones and search for old inscriptions on the bridge – we found quite a few from the turn of the 19th Century.
Continuing along the path through a lovely gorge, eventually you reach the road. Here you can follow the quarry road up to ZipWorld to watch people zooming down the wire at 100mph while sipping a coffee or event G&T on the balcony of the Blondin Café.
Where the path meets the quarry road you could also cross and continue along Lon Las Ogwen to Porth Penrhyn, Bangor….
We went up to the Zip World cafe and met Sian, Elsa and Seth. We had a nice time by the river and we walked back down to the bridge at Ogwen Bank – playing at the water’s edge and chat with a friend was just what the doctor ordered. We headed back towards the quarry road, Sian went to get her car and head home and we followed the road back towards Bethesda.
At the quarry junction we turned left, over Pont Twr, across the A5 trunk road and up the hill to Braich Melyn. At the top of the hill we turned right onto James Street and continued along until the track peters out and gives way to footpaths. We chose the uphill option which joins onto a relatively new forestry road. Turning downwards we re-joined the A5 and walked up the valley on the pavement until we reached . There is a footpath sign here, turning off the A5 we followed the footpath sign and took a left turn where the road forks.
Here you cross the Afon Ogwen and head towards Dolawen Farm. Follow the path towards the farm, but do not continue through the farm yard turn off through a gate and bear left. Continue along the line of the drystone wall until you get to a field, head downwards cross a little stream and join the track not far from a small terrace of cottages.
The path is relatively obscure from here though there is very little danger of getting disastrously lost! From the slate bridge that crosses the stream you’ll be able to see a small terrace of cottages, called Ceunant cottages head towards them and you’ll come across the access road follow away from the cottages and you’ll re-join the single-track road. Continue up the road to head back to the car.
This is a lovely walk of 6km it’s perfectly achievable for little legs. It’s a varied walk with lovely views of the valley, a glimpse of the industrial history, and stroll through the forestry at Braich Melyn – which apparently is home to a colony of red squirrels, though you’re unlikely to meet these shy little creatures.
A map of the walk is available here, although I wouldn’t recommend using it for the purpose of navigation! http://walestrails.com/my-routes/nant-ffrancon-circular-walk/